THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the government did not succeed in providing liquor to the tipplers due to a complete liquor ban announced by the Centre during the lockdown, the de-addiction programme, ‘Vimukthi’ initiated by state excise department received a good response since the lockdown began on March 24 in the state. As per the details available with the excise department, the liquor ban has a positive effect in the state as the state-owned 14 de-addiction centres saw a rise in admissions, Out Patients(OP) and counselling enquiries through the phone.
The statistics from March 24 to April 26 showed that as many as 1259 outpatients approached combining all the 14 de-addiction centres. A total of 182 persons have been admitted (inpatient) since the lockdown while 764 counselling calls through phone have been reported. The counselling phone calls have been made through the three counselling centres of Excise department at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.
Interestingly, all of the cases are related to alcohol consumption and who showed withdrawal symptoms. In the normal seasons, most of the admissions are related to drug abuse.The de-addiction cnetres are established in the state last November. D Rajeev, Additional Excise commissioner told TNIE that the increase in enquiries, admissions and OPs since lockdown imposed in the state is a positive trend as many of them started thinking of quitting alcohol consumption.
“The outpatient rate has been increased as many alcohol-dependent persons prefer to take medicines at home as part of avoiding any withdrawal symptoms. Similarly, there is a sharp increase in counselling through phones since the lockdown. 764 phone calls in 30 days is an exceptional figure and it attributed to the changing mindsets of tipplers by quitting alcohol consumption”, he said adding that the number of OPs, admission rates and phone counselling was too low in the months before the lockdown.
According to S Ananthakrishnan, Excise Commissioner, there were also enquiries seeking a complete treatment once the lockdown ends. “I can see it as a slight increase in admission rates. However, it is a good sign and more people expressed their wish to undergo treatment after the lockdown”, he said.
Earlier, there was a proposal to amend the Abkari Act to facilitate liquor trade from warehouses as a temporary means to ensure liquor during emer.gency time. But after the high court stayed the move to sell the liquor from Bevco outlets during the lockdown period, the government dropped the idea. The decision was taken after the state has reported more than a couple of suicides. Now the government made it clear that the liquor shops will be opened only after the lockdown lifted in the state.
The Excise enforcement wing has stepped up vigil to prevent the supply of illicit liquor and boot-legging. In the last one month, there is a considerable increase in seizure of wash and local brewing units. In addition to the illicit supply of liquor, tipplers are finding other ways to get high by consuming ganja and other drugs.